Owner of a hair salon who organizes health examinations Winner of Everyday Heroes

Al Edmonson is driven by the heartbeat of his Columbus Near East Side community.

Edmondson owns a barbershop A Cut Above the Rest at 346 N. 20th St. on the city’s Near East Side, which became the hub from which the husband and father of two set out to improve the community he has long called home. His barber shop in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, along the border with the King-Lincoln Bronzeville neighborhood, hosts health screenings, offers resources and more to neighbors and friends.

Everyday heroes: Al Edmondson tirelessly serves the Near East Side from his barbershop

“Our hair salon is more than just a hair salon,” Edmondson, 53, told The Dispatch. “They call it the community center; it is the anchor point in the community.

On Tuesday night, Edmonson received the 2022 Everyday Heroes General Award during an event at COSI Columbus in Franklinton. Edmonson will receive a $10,000 grant to contribute to a charity of his choice.

The other four Everyday Hero 2022 finalists were:

The other four finalists and 18 semi-finalists will also receive financial grants to contribute to a charity of their choice.

The Everyday Heroes 2022 group selection process began earlier this year when The Dispatch asked readers and the public for nominations. Edmonson and the other 18 finalists or semi-finalists were then featured in a special publication last month by The Dispatch, Dispatch Magazines and ThisWeek Community News. The event will also be televised on Everyday Heroes award partner NBC4 WCMH-TV later in the week.

Discover the 19 everyday heroes of 2022

Ray Paprocki, publisher of Dispatch Magazines, congratulated all of the 2022 daily heroes.

“The goal of Everyday Heroes is to shine a light on those selfless people who are trying to help improve, unite and better the community,” Paprocki said. “We hope that sharing these acts of kindness and generosity will inspire others to do at least a little more to make a difference.

Owner Al Edmondson cuts Kenneth L. Wright's hair at Edmondson's Near East Side A Cut Above the Rest Barbershop.  A large fresco behind them depicts the life and history of the region.

Edmonson is building a Near East Side community with haircuts and support services

When he accepted the award, Edmonson said his goal was to build community out of his Near East Side hair salon.

“I want to leave a lasting legacy for young children – follow your dreams, dream big,” Edmonson said.

Al Edmonson, owner of A Cut Above The Rest hair salon on the Near East Side of Columbus, right, receives the 2022 Everyday Heroes Global Award Tuesday night at COSI Columbus in Franklinton.

Edmondson was born in the Near East Side neighborhood and had a turbulent childhood.

Although he said his grandmother was his primary guardian, Edmondson lived with his mother for a time in Linden. When Edmondson was 10, his mother, who struggled with mental illness, separated her four children, sending Edmondson to live with his father on the Near East Side. Edmondson then graduated from East High School in 1987.

After a career in the army and tours in the Persian Gulf War, Edmondson returned home. He was later inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame class of 2016 for his service.

William J. Hicks said he was 10 years old when he first met Edmondson. He said he and his brother would get Edmondson’s hair cut at another barber shop in Mount Vernon Plaza.

It wasn’t long before Edmondson opened her own hair salon, A Cut Above the Rest. True to the higher standard demanded by the name of his company, Edmondson did more than just give haircuts.

Circa 2010, Edmondson founded Making a Difference Inc., a non-profit organization that provides health resources, youth mentoring, and family development services with the goal of strengthening the local Black community.

Edmondson is also the longtime president of the Mount Vernon Avenue District Improvement Association, where he has championed neighborhood businesses and fought for road safety measures.

Additionally, Edmondson has volunteered with a number of organizations over the years, including the American Heart Association, whose organizers have repeatedly held health screenings at the barbershop in recent years.

Hicks, who is now a vascular neurologist and co-director of the comprehensive stroke program at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, is a regular customer at Edmondson’s boutique. He said he had the privilege of working with Edmondson on several charitable initiatives, including health expos, ballot campaigns, youth mentorship opportunities and school supply giveaways.

“Every time I sit in the barber’s chair, I’m informed about newly formed or existing initiatives he’s leading,” Hicks previously told The Dispatch. “Rarely does he simply attach his name to something; these initiatives are self-envisioned, cultivated and executed. … His impact is always community-centered and driven by love.”

Dispatch reporter Eric Lagatta contributed to this report.

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